By The Associated Press
Thu., June 2, 2022 timer 2 min. read
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police say they arrested a man on Thursday suspected of sending death threats to an organizer of the annual Jerusalem Pride Parade, an event that has witnessed attacks on participants by religious radicals in previous years.
Thousands of people were expected to take part Thursday afternoon for the celebration of LGBTQ rights and pride, under heavy police protection. In Jerusalem, home to a large ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and other conservative religious groups, many residents oppose the event and the parade is much smaller than the yearly festivities in more liberal Tel Aviv.
In 2015, an Israeli man stabbed 16-year-old Shira Banki to death and wounded six others at the Jerusalem Pride Parade; he had recently been released for a similar attack on parade participants in 2005. The attack was widely condemned across Israel’s political spectrum.
Police said they had apprehended a 21-year-old European citizen residing in Jerusalem on suspicion of sending threats to an organizer of the parade and to several members of parliament who support LGBTQ rights. The police provided no further details.
“We will not allow the Pride Parade to take place in Jerusalem, the holy city. Shira Banki’s fate awaits you,“ read the threat sent to liberal Labor party lawmaker and longtime LGBTQ-rights supporter Gilad Kariv.
Some members of Israel’s ultra-religious community oppose the parade, homosexuality, and LGBTQ rights, and say the event should not take place in the holy city. A far-right anti-LGBTQ group, Lehava, usually stages a counter-protest nearby.
Earlier this week Israel’s defense minister said the government would consider designating Lehava a terrorist organization for affiliation with the late Rabbi Meir Kahane and his violent, anti-Arab ideology.
Israel has emerged as a major gay-friendly travel destination in recent years, in sharp contrast with the rest of the region, where gays are often persecuted and even killed. Members of the LGBTQ community serve openly in Israel’s military and parliament, and many popular artists and entertainers as well as the country’s current health minister are openly gay. But leaders of the LGBTQ community say Israel has a long way to go to promote equality.
Palestinians accuse Israel of using its liberalism on LGBTQ issues to divert attention away from abuses against the Palestinians.
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